Step by step, we will work towards empowering all migrant and refugee youth in Aotearoa/New Zealand to live lives with dignity, free from violence and fear, and to help create safer homes and communities together.
Shakti Youth is a group of young people from Asian, African and Middle Eastern backgrounds passionate about social justice and building towards a violence-free future.
Since 1995, Shakti has strived to create a safer world for women and children from Asian, African and Middle Eastern communities across Aotearoa/New Zealand by providing culturally appropriate support and advocacy. Throughout the 2000s, Shakti was confronted with cases of teenagers experiencing severe violence at home. Forced marriage became a prominent issue. Shakti Youth Unit started in 2010 when a group of young people and youth workers, under 30 years old came together to volunteer for Shakti. We first organised a Migrant Youth New Zealand conference which drew around 40 young people from across different high schools of Asian, Middle Eastern and African descent and it hosted workshops on cultural juggling, racism and family violence.
Since then, it has grown into a unit running from Shakti Legal Advocacy and Family Social Services Inc. We have outreach programmes high schools to build more awareness about family violence and empower youth as agents of social change.
The Migrant/Multicultural Youth New Zealand (MYNZ) conference came about as part of a strategy for engaging with young people from ethnic minority backgrounds on the issues of family violence, racial bullying and cultural juggling, which were the themes for the first conference. It later became an annual event with workshops, speakers and performances.
Youth volunteers in Shakti initially formed a steering group for the Youth Unit. The initiative reflects a similar principle of self-determination, that representation on youth issues and approach to youth clients should be “by and for young people”. With feminism as a philosophical base and having experiences of some of the inter-generational conflicts that can occur in migrant families, members of the steering group worked together to organise youth events in the community for Asian, Middle Eastern and African youth.
The Youth Unit is continually growing with more projects and ideas to better address the gendered issues that young people of minority cultures are facing in Aotearoa/New Zealand.
The Youth Unit has run campaigns to “Bridge the Gap” to stop intergenerational cultural bullying and "Find Your Voice" to speak out to support children who have witnessed family violence. It has also advocated in parliament and in the media on the issues of forced and underaged marriage. In 2015, the Find Your Voice project highlighted the effects on children witnessing violence at home and encouraging young people to speak up if they are experiencing this.
Shakti provides free and confidential support for women, youth and children from Asian, Middle Eastern and African backgrounds going through family violence. We have trained advocates who can assess your situation and inform you of your rights and options. They can refer you to our refuge services, counsellors, lawyers, education programmes and doctors. They can advocate for you to get your benefit entitlements from Work and Income and with Housing New Zealand. To access these services call 0800 742584 (SHAKTI), which is 24 hours 7 days a week.
We are part of Shakti Community Council Inc.
"Shakti" means power or strength